It’s been 35 years since a team won a Game Seven in the NBA Finals on the road. The San Antonio Spurs will look to change that, as they visit the Miami Heat in the last game of the 2012-2013 NBA season. The two teams are set to meet at American Airlines Arena on Thursday night.
Miami’s Game Six victory was nothing like their first two wins in the series. In Games Two and Four, the Heat pulled away in the fourth quarter, averaging a 17.5-point margin of victory. On Tuesday, they needed late second chance baskets and missed free throws by the Spurs to force a Game Seven.
LeBron James sat just three minutes in regulation and overtime, and he may have to give Miami a similar effort in the final game of the season. The MVP thrived with Dwyane Wade on the bench, shooting six of nine when his teammate was not playing, and just five of 17 with Wade on the floor. After falling behind San Antonio by 10 points in the fourth quarter, James led the charge to give Miami the lead when Wade and Chris Bosh were resting. Head coach Erik Spoelstra may have to adjust his substitution patterns as the team looks to win its second straight title.
Head coach Gregg Popovich has received a lot of criticism for the Spurs inability to hold onto a double-digit lead in the final quarter of Game Six. Tim Duncan did his best to match James’s triple-double with a stellar performance of his own, scoring 30 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. Despite Duncan’s production, the head coach sat his starting center and Tony Parker in the first few minutes of the fourth, as well as for a few of the game’s final possessions.
If Spoelstra has to reconsider his use of Wade, Popovich might have to do the same with Manu Ginobili. After having his first good performance of the Finals in Game Five, the veteran struggled, once again. He turned the ball over eight times and only put up five shot attempts. He started alongside Danny Green, who finally shot poorly from the field, missing four of his five three-pointer.
Point Spread: Miami-6, 189.5
Moneyline: Miami-280, San Antonio+240
In the final game of the year, it will be hard for either team to win comfortably. James has played as well as anyone in NBA history in elimination games, holding the highest all-time scoring average in must-win situations. San Antonio won’t be fazed by playing a Game Seven on the road and the Heat have yet to prove that they can stop down both the Spurs perimeter game and Duncan, at the same time. With a close game seemingly inevitable, the edge goes to the team that is at home and has the best player.
Miami 105, San Antonio 104